Members from the Golden State Warriors (GSW) NBA team recently visited San Quentin Rehabilitation Center (SQ). The players arrived to compete in the ninth annual Warriors vs. Warriors game. The home team earned bragging rights with an 85-80 win that was competitive to the final seconds. The annual visit by the GSW is a highlight in the calendar for institution residents and staff.
Aaron “Showtime” Taylor, who was formerly incarcerated at SQ, called the game courtside. His slogan for the event: “Where there are no losers when the Warriors win.”
In anticipation of the four-time NBA Champs arrival, hundreds of spectators crowded the basketball court. Waiting with them were the San Quentin Warriors basketball team.
Golden State Warriors compete inside
Among the GSW’s entourage included:
- Klay Thompson
- Chris “CP3” Paul
- Moses Moody
- Brandin Podziemski
- Trayce Jackson-Davis
- several D-league Santa Cruz Warriors players
- General Manager Mike Dunleavy
- Assistant Coach Kenny Atkinson
- and owner Joe Lacob’s sons, Kirk and Kent Lacob.
The NBA players did not play of course; rather GSW fielded a team comprised of coaching and front office staff. Before the opening tip off, Dunleavy thanked everyone for hosting them and joked that he was there to scout basketball talent.
“Today I am working, just checking you guys out,” said Dunleavy.
Resident Brian Asey, president of the basketball program, thanked SQ management for helping to make the event happen. Asey and Thompson presented Acting Warden Oak Smith with a GSW jersey as an honorary member of the team.
For the first time at SQ, a professional NBA referee, Larone Smith, enforced the rules as two SQ refs assisted him. “Showtime” Taylor’s colorful commentary spiced up the game.
During the game, Paul and Thompson watched the game intently, impressed with some of the highlight plays by the home team. Thompson paced courtside as if he wanted to get in on the action. The duo signed autographs and fit right in with the incarcerated. Paul engaged in a game of dominoes, claiming a victory. Thompson went up against resident Reginald Thorpe in a game of chess, which ended in a draw, according to Thorpe.
“Everybody is cheering everyone on. It is nice to see the population with smiles. There has been so much change and transformation over the last 20 years,” said Acting Chief Avila.
After the game, both sides lined up of for hugs and handshakes with lots of smiles, good vibes, and respect. Coach Bhatt shared what unique and amazing experience the event was for all involved.
“Golden State coming in here makes everyone here feel human. It is good to be seen, and it is encouraging for guys inside,” Bhatt said.
“This opportunity is surreal. When we left last year it really stayed with me,” said Atkinson.
Podziemski went to high school in Marin County and attended Santa Clara University. He said it was great to come to SQ for the first time and “see how everybody was getting along — all the different races, different backgrounds — lots of love here.”
“They’re showing us support, so it’s good for us to come in and show them support,” said Podziemski after the game.
“Thank you to San Quentin for letting us come in and putting on a great show. Even though we have made mistakes and poor choices, there is a way to be redeemed. My takeaway from this experience is that love is the greatest form of rehabilitation,” said Tyler Cooper, starting center for the SQ Warriors.
With the day’s victory, the GSW have the slight 5–4 edge in the series with the Warriors team across the Bay — the San Quentin Warriors.
Story by Michael Callahan, San Quentin News Staff Writer
Photos by Vincent O’Bannon
San Quentin Rehabilitation Center